Belize rich in birdlife & howling monkeys

“If you want to avoid monkey poop, don’t stand under this strangler fig,” cautions Geraldine Fermin.

My daughters and I are standing in a forest clearing 90 minutes north of Belize City, gazing at a troop of eight black howler monkeys that stretch lazily in the branches of the tree directly above us. The 50 square kilometres they share with some 3,500 other monkeys is loosely known as the Community Baboon Sanctuary, an area comprising seven villages in which more than 200 villagers own land.

Its name can be confusing, since baboon is the creole word for monkey. But in 1985 the area was identified as containing one of the largest populations of black howler monkeys in North Central America. Somehow, a group of concerned citizens persuaded the villagers to refrain from the slash-and-burn practices that were previously destroying the monkeys’ habitat. With this loose promise the black howler monkeys’ longevity has been safeguarded – for now, at least.

The vegetarian primates stare down at us, showing little interest until Fermin, our guide, heads into the forest and returns with one of their favourite foods: the leaves of a trumpeter plant. With some encouragement an adult black howler hangs low enough from her branch to retrieve the offering, munching thoughtfully on the leaves before returning to the safety of higher branches.

The howler monkeys got their name from their howl, a loud, guttural sound that rips through the quiet and can be heard from over a mile away. Usually they roar at the start and end of each day in order to space themselves from other troops, or to warn other troops that they are nearby and don’t necessarily appreciate company. Troops have their own boundaries and territory, with little tolerance for other troops in their immediate areas. But Fermin is somewhat of a howler monkey specialist.

Cupping her hands together she emits a throaty roar that sounds more like a predatory bear than anything else. After a few minutes a monkey purses his lips and howls back, his roar infinitely more resonant and powerful. It’s a primeval sound that catches your attention instantly.

The monkeys’ delicate, jet-black features are so intelligent and human-like that  my daughters are in awe. “They look so much like us,” says one, as she watches a three-month-old primate play with its mother, seeking attention by touching her face. A protective one-year-old nearby tries to play mom by enfolding the infant in its embrace, but the baby moves away, determined to claim adult attention instead. “Can we touch them?” my daughter asks longingly.

“We can get close to them but we don’t ever pet them,” Fermin answers firmly.

It’s early afternoon on a searing hot day in Belize and the humidity has left the monkeys as robbed of energy as their human spectators. Content to lounge in the strangler fig, they will move later in the day into the middle and higher canopies of the forest. The troops eat, sleep and travel together, older females often tending to other infants besides their own in the troop.

It’s women that oversee the Community Baboon Sanctuary as well. Female representatives from the seven villages manage and run the operation, and with funding from a Belize conservation trust they’ve created initiatives to bring income to the villagers and thereby discourage them from resorting to destructive slash-and-burn practices.

Read more: Belize rich in birdlife & howler monkeys

Top Places to Stay in Belize


Belize Tour Companies and Travel Agents

Belize Real Estate Opportunities






May 18, 2018

Belize farm offers look into the world of spices

Toledo District, Belize — When vanilla begins to bloom in the summer months, farm workers at the Belize Spice Farm...
Read More
May 17, 2018

What’s in My Daypack: Belize Edition

The items you stuff into your daypack for an exciting adventure can be critical. I just returned from Belize where...
Read More
May 16, 2018

The Ultimate Travel And Diving Guide For Caye Caulker, Belize

Off the coast of Belize City lies a paradise for divers and backpackers alike in the form of the island...
Read More
May 10, 2018

Peter Pan’s Neverland Found in Belize

What happens when a well-known YouTuber reports that they found “Neverland” in your country? You start a tourism campaign to...
Read More
May 10, 2018

7 Must-See Ruins in Belize

Think only Mexico has Mayan ruins? Think again. Its neighbor to the south, Belize, boasts the largest number of ancient...
Read More
May 10, 2018

Condé Nast Traveler

How to rent your own private island in Belize Further read Reads more: https://blurbhouse.com/CNTraveler/993089759852531712
Read More
May 10, 2018

Belize’s Hidden Treasures

Our inaugural Belize’s Hidden Treasures tour was a wonderful immersion into the deep forests of Western Belize. Based at two...
Read More
May 10, 2018

Traveling in Belize with Career Expert Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich

Back in 2014, career expert and content strategist Julie Hocheiser Ilkovich packed her bags and moved to Belize for 6...
Read More
May 10, 2018

7-Night Solo Belize Trip From $317 With Flights & Beachfront Hostel

Belize offers stunning coastlines, incredible scuba and snorkeling opportunities, and plenty of sunshine. We've paired up cheap round-trip flights with...
Read More
1 2 3 17

Comments

comments

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Login

Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Don't have account. Register

Lost Password

Register

Close
Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better
Banner-1